Right at the heart of New York City, The Producers Club Theater is turning dreams into reality for many actors, directors and theater aspiring stars. It has been operating since 1994, and in 2006 the two Albanian brothers, Alfred and Ernest Tollja took ownership of the business. Producers Club Theater has five theaters, a studio and a lounge and it has hosted several Broadway shows, rehearses, acting classes as well as movie screenings.
“We took over the business ten years ago. At the beginning we invited all Albanian friends that we knew and we tried to incorporate them and provide space for their shows. It is extremely difficult to put a show especially in New York City. It is very expensive to rehears or to find space and we are happy to accommodate anyone who needs it. My brother and I have a passion for theater and art in general. We are proud to open doors for many actors and give them the opportunity to use the facility with no money or little money to promote art,” said co-owner Alfred Tollja.
Producers Club Theater has been a great supporter of the Albanian and American community. It has showcased photographic exposes with Albanian and American artists, several Albanian shows with talented actors such as Herion Mustafaraj, Elton Deda, Elza Zagreda, Luan Bexheti, Anisa Dema and screening for well-known directors such as Roko Markolovic and Vilma Zenelaj.
“I screened my film, “My Destiny: An Albanian Story” for a total of six screenings. I had not known Ernest and Fredie prior to arranging my first screening. However, they turned out to be the most supporting, honest and accommodating guys that I have ever met in the exhibition industry for any of my three feature films that I have made. There was never a contract, never a deposit, never an issue regarding money or anything else. All the arrangements we made were completed with a hand shake. Never once, did Ernest or Fredie fail to live up to their agreement. Prior to my first screening these guys to me were strangers. Now I consider them friends. They were great to me and I have not heard anything negative about them. These guys are real!” said director Roko Markolovic.
The two brothers are loved by the Albanian community and are known as honest, caring, determined, loyal and successful entrepreneurs. “I can tell you that Fredi and Nesti are two of the nicest guys I know, and they care a lot about the Albanian community in and around New York City. They are always offering the Producers Club to do events that bring Albanians together without any monetary benefit to them. Because of them, Albanians have a place to meet and share their art, whether it is movies, documentaries, comedies or shows. I have considered Producers Club for my upcoming photo exhibition,” said community activist Danny Blloshmi.
MEET THE OWNERS:
Alfred and Ernest Tollja Open Doors to the Community for Quality Entertainment
Born in the historical and touristic city of Peshkopia, Albania. He attended the University of Tirana for Finance and Accounting. He then moved to United States in 2000 in southern Maine, where he completed his masters degree in Finance. After living in Maine for five years, in 2005 he moved to New York.
“Personally I was not happy with the accounting job. We approached the previous owner who was struggling with the business and bought it from him. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do something different. We saw the place, liked the atmosphere and the business itself and we jumped at the opportunity, even though we didn’t know much about it,” said Alfred Tollja.
“Now we are happy, we enjoy it. We talk to many people about their job and they are not happy to go to work. I love my experience at the Producers Club. Every day is a new day. I get to meet with new people and it is satisfactory to be your own boss. Another satisfaction is the atmosphere that Producers Club provides. You can see that talented people really do art in this place. It is truly amazing to see all the actors doing hard work, being on stage, and after the show I get to meet the actors,” adds Alfred.
Ernest moved to US same year as his brother, in 2000 . He has previously lived in Maine and now resides in New York. He worked for the previous owner of the Producers Club Theater as a handyman doing accounting, then manager and now co-owner with his brother.
“Our mission has been to incorporate both Albanian and American artists. My brother and I have tried to create a support group that can spread the word and promote the events and shows at our theater. We have had several screening of movies, a lot of shows and we have had a great turn out. Actors have a busy schedule and we are happy to promote their work and show our support,” said co-owner Ernest Tollja.
Alfred and Ernest are very satisfied with the business and are happy that the place is what they originally envisioned, a place that opens doors for both aspiring and establish artists and quality entertainment for the New York community. Producers Club Theater has become the home of Albanians who dream to make it in the Big Apple. The upgrades in surround system, projectors, and Blue Rays in every theater have transferred the Producers Club Theater in a memorable and entertaining experience for everyone.